2016-08-30 training log

That went alright, and I’m pretty sure the carb-cutback is kicking in.

In general this session went well. Pressing was fine, even went up on some assistance work.

I tried my first alternative towards helping with my pull-up pain: continue with band-pullaparts during warmup sets, then do “light” pulldowns during work sets, THEN do pull-ups during the big assistance set. It worked alright; I certainly did not feel the same level of pain and aggravation in my teres major (or whatever’s bothered in that general area). I did start the warmup pretty light, by choice, but I think it was too light. Jury’s still out on this approach, but what I think I shall adjust is starting with a slightly heavier weight and more reps, then invert pyramid (increase weight, decrease reps) to get everything used to the (greater body)weight to come. Not working to the point of exhausting things, just getting the area warmed up and feeling primed for the pull-ups. It wasn’t bad, just need a few more trials to see. But so far so good.

But by the end of the session, I just peeded out. That last set of arm work I just had no gas left. As I said before, I’m cutting back on carbs because I’ve been a little too loose with them and it shows. I’m not trying to cut (tho if I lose some I won’t complain), just restrain myself.🙂 But I do think it’s affecting me some. I know what my goals are, I just have to find better balance here — it’s about the long haul (i.e. getting to my strength goals, and not bloating up to a giant fat-ass again).

Anyways, all in all, an alright day.

5/3/1 Simplest Strength Template

  • Bench Press
    • bar x whatever
    • 100 x 5 (warmup sets superset with band pull-aparts)
    • 120 x 5
    • 145 x 3
    • 170 x 3 (work sets superset with neutral-grip pulldowns)
    • 195 x 3
    • 220 x 10
  • Incline Press
    • 130 x 8 (sets superset with neutral-grip pull-ups)
    • 155 x 8
    • 175 x 6
  • Cable Rows
    • 120 x 18
    • 120 x 14
    • 120 x 11
  • Shrugs
    • 225 x 20
    • 225 x 15
    • 225 x 12
  • V-bar pressdowns (superset with curls)
    • 60 x 20
    • 60 x 20
    • 60 x 10
  • Hammer Curls (alternate, across body)
    • 30e x 20
    • 30e x 12
    • 30e x 10

2016-08-29 training log

Using Paul Carter’s scale, today was an 80% day.

It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible. It was just what it was supposed to be. But, that’s better than how things have been.

I knew if I wanted to keep on the same progress train I’d need to hit at least 8 reps on the top work set today. I did that. I could have gone for a 9th, but knew that wouldn’t be wise. For sure, things are getting heavier, so all really does feel on track. Technically this is the middle of my 4th 5/3/1 cycle, and generally a reset ought to come somewhere in the 5-8 cycle range, so yeah, hitting 8 today seems about right. Looking back at my first cycle, on the 5/3/1 week I hit 250 for 8, so being here on 4th cycle on 3-week and hitting 265 for 8, strength is improving slow but sure.

Everything else chugged along as expected.

I was reading a bunch of Jim’s writings over the weekend. I’m going to keep on SST for the foreseeable future because it’s working well and I’m enjoying it. I like hitting the main movement, then a big assistance for strong but restricted sets/reps. Then just hitting some additional stuff that you put work into but not a lot of thought, just to round things out. The flow of the gym session feels… good. I don’t feel beat up, I am getting worked. I am making progress. But that said, I am thinking that when it comes time to reset my weights, adding in some sort of “first set last” variation. Why? Just to see if it helps or hinders. I’d like a little more volume because I had generally done well with a little more volume. By the time I have to reset, I’ll feel pretty well-adjusted to the routine, and will have had enough cycles to see what benefits and what doesn’t. Who knows. I may not do it. Or I may do different things, e.g. maybe bench press gets the 3-5 sets approach, maybe squats gets the 1xAMRAP approach. TBD. The bigger take-home here is 1. wanting to add a little more volume, 2. waiting until reset time before I make larger changes to the program.

5/3/1 Simplest Strength Template

  • Squats
    • bar x whatever
    • 120 x 5
    • 150 x 5
    • 175 x 3
    • 205 x 3
    • 235 x 3
    • 265 x 8
  • Straight-leg Deadlift
    • 190 x 8
    • 220 x 8
    • 265 x 6
  • Leg Curls
    • 30 x 20
    • 30 x 20
    • 30 x 15
  • Hyperextensions
    • BW x 18
    • BW x 18
    • BW x 15
  • Crunches
    • BW x 20
    • BW x 18
    • BW x 12
  • Standing Calf Raises (superset with crunches)
    • 50 x 20
    • 50 x 16
    • 50 x 14

Sunday Metal – Gojira

I’ve only recently started to listen to Gojira. Not yet a fan, but they’re growing on me.

This is “Low Lands”

Lathrop’s Lessons

It is a wise person that learns from the mistakes and experiences of others.

Become a wise(r) person and learn from the experiences of Paul Lathrop.

In February 2016, Paul Lathrop was involved in what appeared to be a low-key self-defense incident. Unfortunately, the event turned into a big problem. Paul was charged, arrested, spent time in jail, but ultimately the charges were dropped (because they were false). There are some important things we can learn from Paul’s experience.

First, Paul tells his whole story in Episode 381 of the Handgun World Podcast. You need to take the time to listen to the entire thing as there’s a great deal to be learned in hearing from Paul first-hand. Seriously. Don’t just skim what I’m about to write and think it sufficient – it’s not. You need to listen to Paul’s account. Listen in the gym when you’re on the treadmill, listen during your daily commute, listen over the course of a few sessions if it’s too long. Just listen to the whole thing, I implore you.

While I was listening, of course I thought about my incident. Realize I’m filtering what I’m about to say through my own experiences. Also, know that I am not here to criticize nor chastise Paul; I know how it is to have people insert their interpretation of events and crucify you over their false or limited knowledge. What I am trying to do is the same thing I did when I shared my story and the same reason Paul gave in sharing his story: to help others learn. We want you to learn from our experiences, so hopefully you won’t have to pay what we’ve paid.

There were three key things about Paul’s incident that stood out to me.

Always Be Cool

From what I can understand, it seems that the pivot point of the incident was Paul’s driving partner giving the other guy the one-finger-salute. Other guy felt disrespected, and everything descended from there. Of course, I cannot hold Paul responsible for the actions of his driving partner, but realize Paul paid for those actions.

In almost every facet of life, the sooner you solve a problem, the better because it minimizes cost. In the context of self-defense we tout the importance of avoid, deter, deescalate – this is an attempt to solve a problem sooner and thus be less costly. We are human thus we are emotion-driven, and we all get angry. We have to work to improve our ability to manage our emotions, especially ones that can get us into trouble. Think about how all of this could have been avoided, and if avoided how much less costly things would have been for Paul.

Since the situation wasn’t avoided, it needed deterrence or deescalation. What do you think could have been done to achieve that end? Granted, we weren’t there so we can’t specifically say. But just consider such a situation and think about possible options. For example, maybe saying “I’m sorry”. Or you may even have to make up a lie, such as “I’m sorry… I had a really shitty day today, everything broke down, wife yelling at me, boss yelling at me, dropped my phone in the toilet… it’s just been a really shitty day and I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. I’m sorry.” Yeah, it’s a bit of a story, and you may not really be sorry at all! But it may just be what’s needed to keep a situation from worsening.

I believe I got the above strategy – capitulation, even false capitulation – from Greg Hamilton at Insights Training. Another thing from Greg is the “ABC of Self-Defense – Always Be Cool“. Strive to Always Be Cool, especially behind the wheel of a vehicle, and it makes a big difference in your life.

Be the first to call the police

Paul acknowledges he should have called the police.

The thing is, the first person to contact the police? They WILL be viewed as the victim, and that’s precisely what happened. The other guy got to frame the incident, and despite the fact it was a series of lies, it was enough for Paul to be arrested and to cause everything to have to be sorted out later.

I asked Massad to identify the most common mistakes armed citizens make that get them in trouble following a justified self-defense shooting. Without hesitation, he replied, “Failing to call police after the incident.”

“The citizen is in a situation that warrants drawing the gun,” he continued. “They do everything right, the suspect turns and runs, and it ends without bloodshed as most of these things do. The citizen figures that it is over, so they do not call the police, but the offender calls in and complains and the next thing you know the citizen has become the perpetrator and the original assailant becomes the victim/complainant, or at least is seen as such.”

“Who ever calls in first, by default, gets to be the victim/complainant,” he emphasized.

(from Massad Ayoob <– read this article too)

If you are in any form of self-defense incident, you need to call the police. Even if it winds up being nothing, it’s still some level of help here because bad guys don’t call the police. If you don’t call, how do you think you’ll be perceived and colored? Again, it doesn’t matter what the truth of the situation is, because right now you’re still being arrested. The truth will come out, but what cost will you pay? Again, the sooner you can solve a problem, the less costly it will be. Call the police as soon as you can safely do so.

Be a member of ACLDN

When my incident happened, I was already a member of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. When Paul’s happened, he was not.

Just to get started, it cost Paul $12,500 – $10,000 to retain the lawyer, $2500 for bail (and that was apparently a reduced bail). Paul made a good point: how many of you right now can go into your bank account and write a check for $12,500? And if you can, that it won’t adversely affect your family budget? Note as well, that’s cheap, and that’s just to start. If Paul’s situation had gone another way, his legal costs would have skyrocketed.

Let’s also not forget the money in lost wages, his travel expenses (having to travel back to the locale for every hearing, etc.). Paul didn’t give a final tally, but you better believe this incident cost him a lot more than $12,500.

If he had been a member of ACLDN, he wouldn’t have had to pay that $12,500.

Membership to ACLDN is $135 for 1 year, $295 for 3 years, or $790 for 10-years. $790 seems like a lot of money, but compare it to $12,500 and it’s a drop in the bucket.

What often happens when someone talks about things like this, they try to not sound like they’re playing favorites. They’ll talk about other groups like Texas Law Shield, USCCA and so on saying “it doesn’t matter which you join, just do your research and join one”. I’ll grant there’s something to that, and I did my research and I joined ACLDN. I think they provide the best “product”. And of course, given I’ve had to directly use their services and have first-hand experience at how they run things well… I’ll just say I have renewed for 10-years, and I’d join at a “Life” membership if they had such a thing. No I don’t get paid for this, I don’t get anything from ACLDN or Marty Hayes. I’m just a member, and a very satisfied one at that.

But you know what really sells me on ACLDN? The caliber, quality, and character of the people who make up the network. Not just people like my own attorney, Gene Anthes, but Massad Ayoob and Marty Hayes himself. Listen to Paul’s story. ACLDN could not help Paul because he was not a member at the time of the incident, but Marty did everything he personally could to help Paul out. Paul also said that of all the groups out there, only Marty reached out to him.

Like I said – the character of the people who make up the network. You’re choosing people you want on your side, fighting for your life and well-being. Choose wisely.

To that I would add, choose now. Neither Paul nor I woke up in the morning and expected we’d be interacting with the police later that day. You don’t get to choose when your flag will fly. I know I had things that I put off, and had I not perhaps my day would have gone differently. It’s evident from listening to Paul that he too had things he put off, and had he not his day would have gone differently. Yes, that $135/year seems like a lot, but pull a little from your ammo fund and do it now, so you don’t risk having to pull 10x that for a lawyer.


I’m glad things worked out for Paul. I’m thankful to Paul for sharing his story, warts and all. I can empathize with a lot of what he went through, so I can appreciate what he did here. We share because we want you to learn, be it from our mistakes or just our general experience. Please take the lessons to heart. Please take action from our lessons.

2016-08-26 training log

That didn’t go as planned.

On the 4th rep of the last work set, I felt a bad twinge pain in my neck, along my upper trapezius. I tried to keep going, but I couldn’t. Not just from pain, but because there was something else… hard to describe, but I just couldn’t move well. So after 6 reps I racked it. Then I turned my head and got quite a pop/crack out of my neck. Hrm.

Since then, my neck/upper-trap has been quite sore. This has happened to me a few times in the past, so it’s not totally foreign. It still sucks, because I’ll be dealing with it for about a week.

I tried to keep going, but things just weren’t having it. So I did my close-grips, then did some light DB upright rows just to get a little movement and extra blood flow up in the area.

In other news. I tried a variation on the pull-aparts that I got from Swede Burns. What I found was his approach really worked my rear delts. Looking at the differences, I can see why. In my normal pull-aparts, there’s scapular retraction, so there’s more back muscles doing work and the rear delts are almost just stabilizers. But in his, he has you with the scapula retracted and in thoracic extension (just like bench setup), so it’s all rear delt. I can’t say if one is better than the other, at least at this point just different.

I also saw something the other day from Paul Carter about rack pullups. Since I expect to get back to pull-ups next week, I think I may actually give these a try. I suspect they could be a little less problematic for me. But I have 2 days of pressing, so I think one day I’ll try the aforementioned warm-up/work-up approach with pulldowns, then the other I’ll try these rack pull-ups. See how they go.

Anyways, today was not the day I wanted, but it’s the day I got.

5/3/1 Simplest Strength Template

  • Press
    • bar x whatever
    • 65 x 5 (warmup sets superset with band pull-aparts)
    • 80 x 5
    • 100 x 3
    • 105 x 5 (work sets superset with more pull-aparts)
    • 125 x 5
    • 140 x 6
  • Close-Grip Bench Press
    • 110 x 10 (sets superset with even more pull-aparts)
    • 130 x 10
    • 155 x 10

2016-08-25 training log

Didn’t want to, but you do the work anyways.

I did not want to go to the gym this morning. Just drag-ass all the way. But you still drag your ass there and put in the work, because it’s consistency over time that gets you there. Why not? Got to bed late. Plus I wasn’t feeling it. I’m not sure if it is the lowered carbs, or heck, it could simply be that finally the weights are getting heavy and hitting the 10-rep threshold all the time is finally coming to a close. Probably a combination of factors. I do expect that the 10-rep stuff is going to be ending here soon, maybe even during this cycle. Of course I’m still going to strive for as much as I can neatly do, but things had to get heavy sooner or later.🙂

That said, overall the session went well. Deadlifts almost felt deload-ish. 10-rep front squats… oof.

In other news, I’ve been cutting back on the carbs a few days now. My weight is down a bit, but I know that’s just depletion and not tissue loss. But you need to deplete before tissue loss will happen. For sure I don’t feel bloated any more, which is good. Thing is, some months ago I stopped the 1-on-1 with Renaissance Periodization and went with their templates. I picked massing, because that’s my current plan. But because of what? 16-18 months of strict dieting took a toll, I needed a break. I just happily ate carbs, with some regard for the plan, but not much. And so I have put on a little more than I should have. So in this “return to form” what I’m doing is going back to the templates, lowest level of things to (re)establish a base. I expect I’ll lose a little bit of weight, and the goal is to just stay on this set of “base” templates, shed whatever sheds, and get to a point of stabilization. It may be that I drop just like 5-7 lb. or something, and that’s fine. Just get things back into a realm. Then I can go from there.

I don’t really want to do a straight up cutting cycle, but I’ve contemplated it. I don’t want to derail my main goal of the “3/4/5”, but there may be a way to work it in. For example, do the above, get things back in bounds, and just keep working until it’s time to reset my lifts. Once I reset, do a 6-week (or maybe 12-week) cut cycle. The weights should still manage OK, I might change the lifting program a bit to support it (e.g. Jim often recommends just going for prescribed reps, then upping the assistance work to get a little more volume and stave off muscle loss). I just refuse to get fat again.

5/3/1 Simplest Strength Template

  • Deadlift
    • 140 x 5
    • 175 x 5
    • 210 x 3
    • 230 x 5
    • 265 x 5
    • 300 x 10
  • Front Squat
    • 125 x 10
    • 150 x 10
    • 175 x 10 (10RM PR)
  • Elevated Glute Bridges (superset with crunches)
    • BW x 20
    • BW x 20
    • BW x 20
  • Twisting Crunches
    • BW x 20
    • BW x 20
    • BW x 20
  • Seated Calf Raises
    • 35 x 20
    • 35 x 17
    • 35 x 14

Cocks and Glocks – they CAN coexist

Brian Bensimon, [Students for Concealed Carry] director for the state of Texas, commented, “If carrying a phallus to class helps you express yourself, go for it. We welcome this demonstration that freedom of speech and concealed carry of handguns can coexist on the same campus.”

Today marked the first day of classes at the University of Texas, Austin. As well, today marked the official start of the “Cocks Not Glocks” protest of the recently enacted laws in Texas that permit some level of the carry of a concealed handgun by licensed adults. Apparently some 4000+ fake penises were handed out to whomever wanted them, to carry around campus in protest.

“Take it and come” was their tag line.

Frankly, the whole thing amuses me. I gotta admit it’s kinda clever.

Weird thing tho. That lawsuit brought by those 3 UT professors that claimed permitting guns on campus would stifle free speech? I think passing out 4000+ dildos – in apparent violation of University policy (civil disobedience!) – is pretty demonstrative that if anything the topic of “guns on campus” has generated a LOT of free speech and free expression. I see no stifling here; in fact, I see a lot of creativity!

And I must admit, the original premise of the movement has a solid point (which I think has gotten lost in the the hoopla). They were originally trying to make a point that something’s not right when University policy prohibits someone from bringing a big black (fake) cock on campus, but now Texas law permits one to bring a big black (real) gun on campus. And I agree with their point. The sad part is they don’t seem to see nor make effort towards trying to improve this supposedly progressive University’s puritanical policies.

Wise advice

Once the cops have been called, you don’t need to be running around outside with a gun in your hand. The chances for a blue-on-blue shooting skyrocket in incidences like that. Plainclothes officers get shot all the damn time in similar circumstances. It’s easy to tell who the responding officers are because they show up in a car with blinking lights and they’re all dressed the same. You want to not be on the playing field wearing the other team’s uniform when they show up.

From Tam. Emphasis added.

The way she phrased it is novel and I think really drives the point home.

2016-08-23 training log

Not hot, but alright.

Yesterday wasn’t the best of days. Today was OK. I mean, I hit everything I expected to hit, but I just didn’t feel like setting the world on fire. Could it still be the sleep? The reduced carbs? Or… the kids seem to have come down with something, so could I be starting to get something? Hard to say. Public school systems start up this week, so I do expect the petri-dish-of-fun to be starting. You know… kids all go back to school, germs, no one washes hands, all the kids get sick, bring it home, parents get sick, they take it to the office, and for about the next month everyone is or gets sick to some degree. Hooray for the start of the school year!

But whatever…. just plow through it.

Biggest thing of note was pull-ups. Because of the aforementioned irritation of my teres major (or something in that area), I’m laying off the pull-ups this week. I need to do something, so I actually threw the band over the bar and did band pulldowns. Nothing intensive, but it’s something to give everything a rest and get a little pump in that area to help with recoup. Next week I’m going to try graduating things a bit, doing warm-up-level pulldowns during the main movement, then doing pull-ups during the big assistance movement. We’ll see how that goes for me.

5/3/1 Simplest Strength Template

  • Bench Press
    • bar x whatever
    • 110 x 5 (warmup sets superset with band pull-aparts)
    • 120 x 5
    • 145 x 3
    • 160 x 5 (work sets superset with band pull-downs)
    • 185 x 5
    • 210 x 10
  • Incline Press
    • 110 x 10 (sets superset with band pull-downs)
    • 130 x 10
    • 155 x 10
  • Cable Rows
    • 110 x 20
    • 110 x 20
    • 110 x 12
  • Shrugs
    • 215 x 20
    • 215 x 18
    • 215 x 14
  • V-bar pressdowns (superset with curls)
    • 60 x 20
    • 60 x 18
    • 60 x 14
  • Hammer Curls (alternate, across body)
    • 30e x 20
    • 30e x 15
    • 30e x 10

Alice Cooper – August 21, 2016, Austin Texas

I spent the night with Alice Cooper.

August 21, 2016, Alice Cooper came to Austin, Texas to play the ACL Live Moody Theater as a part of his “Spend the Night with Alice Cooper 2016” tour. It’s 2+ hours of Alice and only Alice, and what a night it was.

It was luck that I got to see the show. Karl had an extra ticket, asked me if I wanted it, and of course I took it. After having seen Alice back with Mötley CrĂĽe 2 years ago, I was always wanting to see a full headlining set from him, so here was my chance. Also very cool? A couple of Karl’s friends also attended. Their first concert/date was seeing Alice, back in 1973. So this was a sort of cool “anniversary” sort of celebration for them, and it was an absolute pleasure to meet them and share in this evening with them.


On the way in, Karl was listening to the local rock radio station, KLBJ-FM. They were having a pre-show at the 310 club, which is a club/bar under the Moody Theater. The pre-show was free, and if you attended and had a ticket to the Alice show, you could enter a drawing to win a ticket upgrade (to a suite) or a chance to meet Alice. So after an early dinner we headed to the pre-show and put our names in the drawing.

The pre-show itself was a local band called Bang. It actually was local band Vallejo dressed up with wigs and playing 80’s metal cover tunes. I noticed a bunch of incorrect lyrics were being sung, but as they played on things got better. For sure, the guy can sing (and he really should have sung an L.A. Guns song, like “I Wanna Be Your Man” because his voice would have been perfect for it). Seems like this was just a one-off fun thing they did, and overall it was enjoyable.

After their set, KLBJ did the drawing and…. I won! I won a suite upgrade! Sweet!🙂

Our tickets were on the floor, towards stage right, and wouldn’t have been bad seats. But the suite was up on the mezzanine level, and ultimately provided a better view of the show. The suite itself? Meh. I mean, while we waited for the show to start, the couches were nice and it was cool to chill there, but you couldn’t lounge and watch the show. So we stood, which was fine, and had a great view of the show. Either way, it was cool to have won, for just the cost of attending the pre-show. Thank you KLBJ!


Karl said it best: it wasn’t a concert, it was a show; almost like a Broadway show.

Whereas in a concert you might play a few songs, then stop and rap with the audience, then intro the next song and so on – that is, it’s just playing songs; this was a show. This was one song after the next, almost no breaks, no “rapping”, just putting on a presentation.

The band was tight. Appears to be the same band I saw him with two years ago. They knew their parts. Highly choreographed, well-rehearsed, and just well presented. Don’t take that as a bad thing: Alice is putting on a show, with props, acting, pyro, and a host of other things and you just can’t pull that off with a winging-it-improve-type set. Plus the band members have to be in the right places so that proper emphasis is given to what needs to be viewed, and they don’t get hurt! There’s a lot going on on stage.

Many good songs played, including pulling out some more obscure tracks as well as the expected hits.

Of course, good prop stuff happened, like “Feed My Frankenstein”, and “Ballad of Dwight Fry” into “I Love the Dead” – guillotine and all. Alice is also playing off the election year with a lot of “Alice Cooper for President” stuff, and even bringing out a couple of his actors in Trump and Hillary get-ups (alas, no guillotine for either of them). Quite well done, and amusing all the way around.

He’s also been doing a set of covers, Hollywood Vampires stuff. “Pinball Wizard”, “Suffragette City”, and “Ace of Spades” – which seemed to feature more of his bassist, which of course was quite appropriate. Just nailed this covers.

Alice might be 68 years old, but you would never know it. High energy, non-stop rock and roll show for 2+ hours. Just tight tight tight, and knocked your socks off. Would see again, and again, and again, and again.

Spending the Night with Alice Cooper, August 21, 2016 Austin, Texas ACL Live Moody Theater

Spending the Night with Alice Cooper, August 21, 2016 Austin, Texas ACL Live Moody Theater